The NRL will consider a hardline proposal to stand down any player accused of serious crimes as debate over Jack de Belin's eligibility to play continues to flare.
The game is in damage control after a dramatic summer in which a series of off-field scandals has dominated headlines and tarnished rugby league's image in the eyes of many fans and sponsors.
In response, the Australian Rugby League Commission has promised to consider a submission put forward by Melbourne Storm chairman Bart Campbell.
A frustrated Campbell fired off an email to league bosses and fellow club chiefs on Thursday in which he lamented that the game had become "morally tone deaf".
There is increasing support for St George Illawarra and NSW lock de Belin to be stood down after he this week pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated rape in company of a 19-year-old woman.
Campbell said if de Belin were signed to the Storm, he would be sidelined while the court case is heard.
He said that in many other professions, an employee in that situation would be stood down, and urged the NRL to drive a change in policy.
ARLC chairman Peter Beattie said Campbell's submission would be reviewed when the independent commission meets on February 28.
"These are complex issues, they really are quite difficult. And I understand why people debate them," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.
"Under our current policy, we've made it clear these are matters for the courts. And the NRL is very strong on applying natural justice.
"Each case needs to be judged on its merits. On this occasion, with the information in the public atmosphere, it is very difficult."
The NRL met with the chief executives of all 16 clubs in Melbourne on Friday where they considered a range of penalties for errant behaviour.
Greenberg also quizzed the other 15 CEOs on whether de Belin should be forced to stand aside.
The NRL and Dragons have declined to stand down de Belin, saying he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
But Catharine Lumby, an advisor to the NRL on women's issues, said standing down a player accused of a serious crime would not pre-judge their guilt and that allowing them to play sent a negative message.
"Talking about these things in the public domain is difficult ... we also understand this is a very emotive issue," Greenberg said.
"It's a very difficult issue. Jack de Belin faces very serious criminal charges. But he's entitled, as all of us are, to the presumption of innocence."
© AAP 2019